3 Super Foods That Transform your Energy
Is it any surprise that reading labels at the Supermarket can be confusing? This is how Marketing geniuses want it as they gnaw on your every health-conscious nerve. Do we need education- maybe a PhD in nutrition?- to navigate these treacherous waters?
No. We just need to read between the lines of zero fat and zero sugar just to find out that it really has no sugar, but it’s loaded with substitutes like maltodextrin or aspartame that are much worse than sugar.
So, what’s the answer? Most health-conscious people like to stick to fresh foods and vegetables. Narrowing your choices down to fresh foods and veggies is a wise choice if you ask me. But, when we can’t, we still need to make the best choices available. I was once asked a hypothetical question. If I were stuck on an island, what would be the three foods I would take with me and eat forever? The answer to that question is quite easy for me because I actually currently eat these three foods-- every single day. Drum roll please! They are Quinoa, Salmon and Broccoli.
Quinoa is a seed grain crop pronounced “KEEN-WAH”. There are three main types red, black and white. Quinoa is a super food for me because it packs the most powerful nutritional punch for a seed. It is gluten free, high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. This power seed has loads of proven health benefits that include antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the most important part of my long relationship with quinoa is how predictable it is. I can literally time exactly what time I will have to find a bathroom after each meal. (Too much information--I know! But it’s friendly impact on my digestive system makes it a winner). For energy, digestive health and taste, you will find nothing better than a staple like quinoa.
Salmon. Oh, how I have a loving relationship with this beautiful fish. It started about three years ago, after multiple expensive trips from vitamin shops, health food stores and GNC to buy supplements to help my bones and muscles recover. I was buying obscene amounts of fish oils, glucosamine and protein powders. I thought to myself, ”Why am I spending all of this extra money? What if I really bumped up my fish consumption? Would I still have to take these fish oil supplements?” That’s when I really began to research power fishes and the role of mercury in high seafood diets. After not much research, I noticed a forever favorite of mine, Salmon. It’s a major source of protein and omega three fatty acids. Not only was I gaining essential protein to help my muscles recover and repair, but I also discovered that salmon reduces the risk of heart disease and improves bone density. So, after many years of spending hundreds--maybe thousands-- of dollars on fish oils and glucosamine I finally saw the light. By simply researching, I was learning that salmon can easily replace these supplements with the added benefits of a brain food. Salmon has omega three fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Salmon is also known as a mood food--it is well documented that salmon has the ability to improve your mood and reduce depression. I was completely sold on the benefits and its taste!
Broccoli. My turbulent relationship with this beautiful green vegetable began in 2009- after signing up for my first amateur bodybuilding competition. I wanted to learn, and I wanted to win. In preparation, I attended a few shows and sought out the best performing athletes behind the scene as they were preparing to go out on the stage for their one minute of fame. After questioning nearly all the winners from each category, the information I gathered was there was a lot of challenging work coupled with high protein, low carbs, tons of water and broccoli. If that many people that I wanted to look like believed in this vegetable then there must be some truth to the hype, right? In all honestly, I didn’t really like broccoli at first. With time, I learned I didn’t have to like it, but only embrace it, because it just works.
I hate the fact that it wakes me from my beautiful sleep, but I absolutely love the fact that it works. Broccoli has high fiber, calcium and vitamin C which is almost unrivaled in taking care of your digestive health and helps to prevent constipation. It is also very high in magnesium, zinc and phosphorus which are good for heart and bone health. Broccoli is an antioxidant which is great for inflammation, cholesterol reduction and contains properties that reduce estrogen which causes cancer in the body. I have found an ally in broccoli. I used it in my prep phase and ate 2-3 cups a day for three months. My energy levels and digestive health were all at peak levels which helped me achieve second place overall. I stuck with me new vegetable companion for the following year and took home first place at the New York’s Hercules Champions in 2010. I still eat broccoli every day and very much enjoy its benefits. I might not like it very much, but it works. It takes self-control and discipline to trick your mind into enjoying it, but after some time, it becomes your best friend and it will never let you down.